Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Hüsker Dü was a roiling maelstrom of a power trio whose six mid-Eighties albums established alternative rock's fusion and noise and tune. They were a great band, but their failure to conquer the malls can't just be blamed on the insensitivity of the masses--Bob Mould never projected Kurt Cobain's bombed-out soul, and his guitar dazzle wasn't bizarre or egotistical enough to dumbfound the benighted. Maybe failure frustrated him. In any case, after the band disintegrated in 1988, he proceeded to bare his soul in two tortured, overarranged solo albums--another rocker turned artiste.

So here out of nowhere comes Sugar, a roiling maelstrom of a power trio led by none other than Bob Mould. Vocally and lyrically, Copper Blue (Rykodisc) confronts the pain of the world with Mould's characterstically confused, uniquely introspective rage, leaving the meaning to tunes that stick like honey, solos that flow like mad, and a momentum that keeps on like the life-force itself. If the malls still aren't ready for it, maybe you are.

A similar if more calculated rush comes off Going Blank Again (Sire/Reprise), the third album by Manchester's dance-rock-identified Ride. Where once they favored beatwise, atmospheric guitar washes, here they excavate the universal rock and roll fakebook. You'll almost recognize most of the riffs these tunes come off of, and unless you're a stick-in-the-mud you'll enjoy the electronic textures they're dressed up in. Music carries meaning here too--but only if meaning is an issue at all.

Stacy Dean Campbell, Lonesome Wins Again (Columbia): The simplest country album in years--and if you give it a chance, the most winning. Dennis Robbins, Man with a Plan (Giant): another young Nashville cat, this one with a sense of humor and a fondness for rock and roll.

Playboy, Oct. 1992

Sept. 1992 Nov. 1992